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Sigrity tool automates decap selection

Posted: 01 May 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:decoupling capacitors? EMF analysis? 3D solver?

Sigrity Inc. claims a breakthrough with its tool that helps automate the selection and placement of decoupling capacitors (decaps). OptimizePI, for high-speed PCBs and IC packages, uses Sigrity's power integrity analysis technology to take some trial and error out of the process.

"A lot of designers just take a shotgun approach and blast in a whole bunch of decaps," said Brad Brim, product-marketing manager at Sigrity. "If you've got 1,000 decaps on a high-performance board, maybe you only need 200 to get the same performance. That's what we tell them. We also tell them if they can use the cheap ones you can buy in bulk or if they have to use more expensive ones."

Decaps are used extensively on boards and packages to stabilize power supply voltage. OptimizePI will show designers where the caps need to be placed and identify the cheapest possible ones that will meet the design's goals. It includes iterative "what-if" analysis, cost-based optimization and interactive cost/performance trade-off analysis. The tool helps engineers avoid overdesign, the company said.

The initial release focuses on PCB design.

Jaiyuan Fang, Sigrity's president, said OptimizePI provides an automated, fast what-if analysis that would be "virtually impossible" to do by trial and error. "It's a new generation of tools for power analysis that not only gives the performance of power systems, but can also optimize while considering capacitor performance and cost," he said.

Fang noted that OptimizePI is based on Sigrity's EMF analysis technology, which involves a "very customized" 3D solver. It will run in a few hours for relatively simple boards, but may take a few days for complex ones, according to Sigrity. It doesn't require other Sigrity tools.

To use OptimizePI, designers provide a layout file and a capacitor library, including electrical and cost models. Users may also provide the target performance for each chip on the board, in which case the tool optimizes the decap selection to meet the target performance.

Power integrity analysis locates decoupling capacitors.

The tool shows the optimal locations for decaps and shows the least-expensive acceptable choices for each location.

Because the tool doesn't require expertise in power integrity, Brim said, it can be used by personnel at manufacturing companies to optimize the cost of existing designs, as well as by engineers for new PCB designs.

OptimizePI will be available in June starting at $35,000 for an annual license.

- Richard Goering
EE Times

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